Orlando City will attempt to get three straight MLS wins this Sunday when the Lions face New York City FC at 7:30 p.m. under the lights of Exploria Stadium. The Blues are third in the Eastern Conference standings with a 13-7-6 record and 45 points — nine more than the Lions, who moved up to fifth in the Eastern Conference standings after their win against Charlotte last week. Let’s take a deep dive into the numbers behind New York City FC.
New York City is fourth in goals scored this season (48), which comes off the back of the team’s third-most total scoring attempts (383) in MLS. Part of what makes NYCFC’s offense so daunting for an opposing defense is that the team not only comes at opponents with a barrage of scoring attempts, but its players are also accurate when they get these chances. New York City is tied for first in on-target scoring attempts (147) and is fifth in accurate shooting percentage (38.4%) on the season, which means it will be very important for the Lions’ defense to limit the amount of quality chances that New York City is able to create. The offensive attack for the Empire State side has been fueled by its ability to create these scoring opportunities, which is due in large part to its stellar passing game. This season, the Pigeons rank seventh in MLS in accurate forward zone passes (5,055) and in accurate pass percentage (83.6%) and they are ninth in assists (41).
The New York City FC defense has been interesting to watch this season. NYCFC has conceded the fourth-fewest goals (30) on the third-fewest shots against of any team in MLS and ranks first in clean sheets (13) as well. Despite these great numbers, the actual stats behind the defense do not look like what we would expect from a team that has conceded the fourth-fewest goals. The New York City FC defense is in the bottom half of the league in duel percentage (49.4%), ranking 18th, clearances (423) in which the team is 21st, and interceptions (212) where it sits 25th in MLS. One area where the NYCFC defense has performed well is in applying pressure to opposing players, ranking tied for fourth in successful pressure percentage (31.0%), however, the team does not apply pressure as often as it should, ranking only 14th in total pressures (3,596). The New York City FC defense is also barely in the top half of MLS teams in blocks (371), sitting 12th, and tackles (439), in which it ranks 13th.
Players to Watch
Forward Talles Magno has been the best offensive starter for the NYCFC offense after the midseason loan departure of leading goal scorer Valentín Castellanos to La Liga side Girona FC. Magno is first among NYCFC players in total scoring attempts (50) and is tied for first in goals (6). Forwards Heber and Gabriel Pereira have also been valuable offensive players off the bench this season. Pereira has started in seven of 18 matches for the club this season, is tied for first in goals (6), and leads the club in accurate shooting percentage (68.4%). Heber has also only started in seven matches, although he has played in 22 this year, and he is tied for first in goals (6), as well as sitting fifth on the club in total scoring attempts (22). Meanwhile, midfielders Maxi Moralez and Santiago Rodríguez have played key roles in setting up scoring opportunities for these attacking players. Moralez is first on his team in both crosses (41) and accurate forward zone passes (610), while Rodríguez is first in assists (11).
Midfielder Nicolas Acevedo is the statistical leader for the New York City FC defense this year. Acevedo is first in both interceptions (51) and tackles (58), and he is second in blocks (32) and pressures (380). Defender Thiago Martins has also played a crucial role in helping fix some of the deficiencies in the NYCFC defense. Martins is first in clearances (81) and blocks (33). Sean Johnson has been the go-to goalkeeper this season, allowing 30 goals and making 69 saves on 99 shots faced for a save percentage of 69.7%. Johnson leads MLS in clean sheets (13) this season.
That’s what I found on New York City FC. Let me know what you think about Sunday night’s match in the comments and, as always, go Orlando!